This Dicterow in the Caribbean was as powerful as Stalin was in Russia, Stalin had full control. Papa Doc had full control.
Also, he projected himself more and more as this material being he liked to project this idea of omniscience, that he like a spider in a cockpit, that he is at the center of this network of information.
The whole of vulgarism was about the establishment of terror, and it was the terror that was inside people's heads. People were even afraid to think that thoughts about people are rounded up by the market and they are shot people.
Also, their houses are being taken over and shot in their houses.
He wanted punishment to be exemplary. And therefore, the more blood-curdling, the more violent, the more indiscriminate, the more effective it was.
On November the 22nd, 1963, President Kennedy is shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine, on a visit to Dallas, Texas. 30 minutes later, the president is declared dead eight hundred miles away in the Haitian capital of Port au Prince, the sound of popping corks swings out through the halls of the presidential palace, mingling with the fans of television sets all tuned to the same channel.
Former ambassador to the United States Raymond Joseph remembers the day well when Kennedy was assassinated and the 22nd of November, Papa Doc Duvalier had champagne at his palace with his sycophants and he said, I have succeeded because Kennedy was really anti Duvalier and was doing everything possible to get rid of him. But Papa Doc isn't just pleased at Kennedy's demise. He's pleased with himself. Because according to the dictator, this assassination of a sitting U.S. president is all down to him.
My name is Paul McGann and welcome to Real Dictators, the series that explores the hidden lives of tyrants such as Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao and Kim Jong Il. In this episode, we return to Haiti to follow the incredible, true story of the man they call Papa Doc, told by those who survived his regime.
This is real dictators. With Kennedy gone, the pressure from the United States is off. Papa Doc, he is secure in his position. Taking a sip from a champagne flute, Disvalue explains to the gang of yes men around him that he put a voodoo curse on the leader of the free world. It's no coincidence that President Kennedy was killed on this of all days, Papa Doc made people believe that on the 22nd of November what happened in Dallas was his doing because he did everything on the 22nd.
The 22nd was his lucky day. He got elected on September 22nd, 1957. He was inaugurated October 22nd, and he preferred to have killed Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963.
The intended message is clear no matter how powerful they may be, the fate of anyone who opposes Papa Doc is death. Even Kennedy, James Ferguson, author of Papa Doc, Baby Doc, even if it wasn't true, that really wasn't the point, because if people believed it, then this was all grist for the Duvalier propaganda mill. This was a man it was not an ordinary man. In fact, he was a supernatural leader. He would make these speeches.
He would make these remarks like I know everything in Haiti. Not only that, I know everything that happens in the United States, in the European capitals. He likes to project this idea of omniscience that he somehow is the center like a spider in a cobweb, that he is the center of this network of information that was gathered by his people, his spies, and that you couldn't escape his reach. But even with his prime adversary out of the picture, the Haitian dictator still needs to keep his wits about him.
Ruling by fear may keep him in office, but it means he can never rest on your laurels. They will always be people with an axe to grind, people who've had everything taken from them with nothing left to lose.
A group of young Haitians based in New York decided that the time has come to take matters into their own hands. It's time to end Haiti's suffering. Time for a new generation to take over.
They call themselves the June Haiti or Young Haiti, the Zhun Haiti or Young Haiti movement from New York, where supporters of John Kennedy, when Kennedy was assassinated, Gennadi movement, felt that they had lost a great supporter. And they didn't feel that the Johnson administration would push through with a program that Kennedy had for Haiti. This program called for a new leadership with people that were studying in American universities like the Haiti. So they Shadadi young men, 13 of them, left New York and went to Haiti to carry out guerrilla movement, just like Castro did in the Sierra Maestra.
They were going through that in the mountains of Haiti.
Most of the journey, Haiti have lost family to Papa Doc's regime, inspired by the success of Castro's revolution in Cuba. This group of 13 students arrives in Haiti and starts to stir up trouble in the countryside. Initially, they managed to go under the radar without the Tonton Macoute getting wind of their plans. These youthful revolutionaries are convinced that, given an opportunity, ordinary Haitians will jump at the chance to be liberated. But the revolt never gets off the ground, unlike in Cuba, the geography of Haiti is not well suited to guerrilla warfare.
The rebels opt to lay low in the mountains, plotting their next move. But the mountains are bare and on wooded. It's no place to hunker down. One by one, the journey to track down and killed by the security services. The body of one of the vanquished rebels is brought to Papa Doc. The dictator will use it in a gruesome power play that hardly bears description. John Mackey, author of Papa Doc Portrait of a Haitian Tyrant. He left the body in an armchair outside the arrivals hall of Port au Prince International Airport so that the few tourists that Haiti got at the time went through passport control, went out to get their taxi, only to be confronted by this decaying, rotting body sitting in an armchair for several months, the last of the June heat stroke alone in the mountains.
Eventually, only two are left alive. They are dragged to Port au Prince, where their execution is set for November the 12th, 1964. It will be a horrific public event for the executions, Duvalier declared a public holiday, told Schoolteacher's that they had to bring their schoolchildren to watch the executions. This is how we deal with the enemies of Haiti. The executions were filmed and were played on television for weeks afterwards and then periodically over the next few years when there was a gap to fill in the in the schedules of let's show the execution of the Vision 80.
I think the execution of the surviving Jannati members was was typical of Duvalier's sense of rather macabre sense of theater, that if you if you could stage an execution, then televise it. And to make it even more grotesque, bring in a group of schoolchildren to witness it, because then the impact throughout Haiti, not that many Haitians had television, but it would have been widely reported that this has happened, would have been immense. Papa Doc discovers that most of the zoo in Haiti originally come from the town of Jeromy, it's a stronghold of opposition.
Plots are always emerging here with the students revolution crushed, Duvalier unleashes horrific vengeance on the town. Professor Robert Fatton, people are rounded up by the market and they are shot, people also are their houses are being taken over and shot in their houses. It's not clear how many people died, but it's probably in the thousands.
It tells you something about Duvalier, and that is that he wanted punishment to be exemplary. He was the master of the symbol. He realized that action could be used in a symbolic way to terrorize, to kill a population. And therefore, the more blood-curdling, the more violent, the more indiscriminate, the more effective it was. And in a sense, it reminds you of modern day phenomena whereby actions are intended for consumption by people who will be terrified by the end of 1964.
There is simply no viable opposition left. Anyone who might have stopped this regime is dead, dismembered or in exile. An incredible 50 percent of the government's total budget is spent on the presidential guard and the Tonton Macoute. Papa Doc has absolute free reign over the country and its population.
I think by this period, Duvalier could be defined as a megalomaniac. I don't think you can see beyond the maintenance of power, power is everything. There is no alternative. He can't leave. He can't retire. He's got to stay there. So whatever it takes, he will do. It does appear that he has lost touch with the sort of everyday reality.
The tyrant continues to freely embezzle millions of dollars a year from public funds meant to support the Haitian people.
One of the greatest scams that Duvalier and his associates invented was the National Fund for the Renovation. And this basically took the form of extortion of taxes on everybody, businessmen, on peanut vendors. Anybody could get money. This money went pretty much directly into the pockets of Duvalier and his family and his cronies. Nothing was ever renovated using the fund for national renovation. That just wasn't the way the system worked. One of the most egregious excuses for extra taxation is the construction of a brand new town called Duvalier Ville.
This vanity project never even gets finished. Today, you can walk amongst the uncompleted modernist structures. Over the years, the smooth white stone has been bleached by the sun and eroded by the sand. It's a ghostly monument to Haiti's past. But not every scam visited on the Haitian public is to do with taxation. Some are more sinister than that. One of the Valley's most prized henchmen is a man called Lukla Cambron. He is the brains behind one infamous government scheme.
One of the scams that he invented was to sell Haitian blood to the USA. Now, you might think that's not a very good idea, but that's a very good idea because antibodies that are built up in a population that is facing almost constant disease of one sort or another, there's a lot of antibodies, powerful stuff in there. So the plasma that you can make, formation blood was actually very prized by US hospitals. It wasn't entirely clear how he came across the blood.
He then sold on to the USA. But he has he had this reputation as being the vampire of the Caribbean. On June the 4th, 1964, Duvalier moves to take perpetual control of the country. He holds a constitutional referendum to make himself president for life. And surprisingly, in a country petrified into submission, Papa Doc wins ninety nine point nine percent of the vote. Duvalier is now more powerful than any other man in Haitian history. But even total power in this world is not enough.
Papa Doc wants to be more than just a president. He wants to be a God. In a public address to the nation, he delivers a bombshell, he declares that he really is more than human. He is an immaterial being. Bullets cannot hurt him, no mortal can hope to vanquish him. He was essentially saying that he was eternal. Even if you were to die, he was still there. You were some sort of spirit hovering over him and that nothing, nothing.
And no one could prevent him from being that immaterial human being.
Papa Doc is now stating openly what many Haitians already believe, that their president really is an incarnation of the dreaded voodoo loa, or demigod Baron Samedi, guardian of the graveyard. Raymond Joseph, former Haitian ambassador to the United States.
Papa Doc, maybe a Caribbean dictator, but this tinhorn dictator in the Caribbean was as powerful, I believe, as Stalin was in Russia. Stalin had full control. Papa Doc had full control. Also, Papa Doc did his control with his total market and voodoo. In a country where mysticism is so well entrenched. Papa Doc used voodoo to control. Papa Doc already dresses like Baron Samedi. Now he's claiming to actually be somebody, a rumour circulates, Duvalier has made a journey into the hills of Haiti's interior.
He's been to a cave known as the true foobar. It's a sacred voodoo site. There he found something particularly horrifically useful.
One of the stories that circulated about Duvalier was that he'd been to a place called Unfordable, which is a few kilometers north of Tokyo, as well as a cave network. And he'd come back. It brought back from Kosovo a bunch of demons called Bucker. He had them installed. They lived in the centers of the National Palace. So in the minds of the superstitious population, the idea that he's got these demons ready to unleash is quite a disincentive to revolt.
Rebellion, housing demons. In his palace, Duvalier claims to be able to speak to the dead. He orders the decapitated heads of his enemies to be brought to him. His Tonton Macoute enforcers are more than happy to oblige.
Duvalier became convinced that you could actually extract intelligence from the heads of political enemies. He would actually sit in the bath, sometimes complete with top hat, and consult the head of the opponent. He believed that he could actually get information from the head that would help him in protecting his interests.
Death in Haiti, for many people, especially the voodoo, is is not natural. Very often they think that the dead person is taken to become a zombie. So when the dead body is snatched by Duvalier, people think that Duvalier had made a zombie, probably maybe working for him somewhere.
The foreign press are to some extent complicit in mythologising this dictator. When Duvalier first got elected, American newspaper columnists revelled in rumors that the president studied the entrails of goats to seek political guidance. They delighted in recounting his transformation into Baron Samedi. Exotic tales of Duvalier's voodoo exploits make for great newspaper columns. The problem is this helps the myth to grow, which in turn bolsters Papa Doc's position as a newspaper editor in Haiti.
At the time, Bernard Diedrich observed this phenomenon in action.
It was thanks to the foreign press in many ways that made him into a voodoo practitioner. I mean, Devanny used to smile because they made him a real voodoo is where he was. And he was an atheist. He didn't believe in voodoo. He didn't believe in anything, just power here. These people writing all the stories about him doing Bellson, that these stories were repeated. And then that's why the people started to believe that he had this power.
By the end of the 1960s, Papadakis succeeded in transforming himself in the eyes of his people and those of the watching media into a voodoo demigod. He has Haiti under his thumb.
But there is one force he cannot evade, no matter how hard he tries his own mortality from 1964, Duvalier is so implanted himself as absolute leader, he has so terrified, murdered, Cowled, the opposition that there is no real viable opposition to him. He has achieved what he wanted. The only enemy really left is the Grim Reaper and his own failing health. This is ultimately what will see the end of him.
Most dictators don't get away with it. They suppress rebellion for so long, but eventually it breaks out and when it does, they come toppling down. But such as Duvalier's grip on Haiti, that kind of outcome looks unlikely. He looks set to rule until the end of his natural life. But beyond that, what will his fiefdom look like? Papa Doc is in his 60s, he has diabetes, is already had one massive cardiac arrest. Another one could be lurking just around the corner.
He's had congestive heart failure and brain damage since his nine day coma back in 1959. It's time to secure a legacy for himself and his children. He might die, but his voodoo powers will linger on. People believe that he really is Baron Samedi, and that will give him insane power and influence even from beyond the grave. The whole of devaluation was about the establishment of terror, and it was a terror that was inside people's heads as well as on the streets.
You can only run that kind of regime if people internalize that terror. So, for example, if you take the case of censorship, the actual censorship of newspapers, books, it wasn't that efficient. When censorship becomes really efficient is when you do it yourself, when you internalize the censors.
So people were even afraid to think that thoughts about Duvalier Duvalier wants to project himself as almost synonymous with the country. So he makes these pronouncements about being the national flag. The Haitian flag had changed over time from the founding of the Haitian Republic. It was initially red and black. It became red and blue. Various kings presidents wanted to change it to suit their own imagery. But Duvalier changed it back to red and black. And symbolically, this is important because the blue looked back to the French colonial period, Black said.
We are a black republic, a black nation, and this very much chimed in with his concept of no Isma.
He projected himself more and more as this material being, as he put it. He was encouraged in this by his speechwriters. They fell over each other to invent new superlatives, to describe him. So at one point he was called the great electrifying of souls, which was ironic given what they did in the basements of the torture chambers. The Lord's Prayer is rewritten as a prayer to Papa Doc. So our doc who art in the National Palace, etc., etc.
Duvalier is a trained doctor, he can recognize that his own death is approaching. That's why he's making plans for the future. Paradoks eldest son is called Jean-Claude. He's still a teenager. He's lived a life of immense luxury, completely cut off from the world. Nevertheless, the demigod president has decided that this is the man to inherit the presidency to continue his father's terrible work. Professor Robert Fatton remembers the emergence of the heir they call Baby Doc. You start to see Jean-Claude going to inauguration's of schools, things of that sort.
It becomes more a public figure prior to that, which was known simply as a kind of a fat playboy. So he's starting to look different at different. First, Duvalier begins to say that he was going to give power to the use of Haiti, but no one took him seriously. No one imagined that Jean-Claude Duvalier was going to be the successor. There was a referendum that was organized, again, completely rigged with 99 percent of the population said yes to Jean-Claude.
Then he was 18 at the time. So the Constitution had to be changed. So you could be a president. You know, at 18, when François Duvalier would go to a public event, Jean-Claude Duvalier would be next to him. So it was something that happened fairly quickly, but systematically. On April the 21st, 1971, Papa Doc Duvalier dies peacefully in his bed. A quiet death from natural causes is a luxury he's denied thousands upon thousands of his own innocent people.
The transition from Papa Doc to Baby Doc is seamless, but just 19 years old, young Jean Claude steps into the presidential palace and picks up where his father left off.
The Duvalier dynasty will continue for a long time, yet eventually Baby Doc will be overthrown, but not for another 15 years.
The Duvalier legacy is one of fear and broken dreams, Papa Doc wrecked an aspirational country and unleashed a nightmare is crimes haunt Haiti.
To this day, I think Haiti was permanently scarred and disfigured by Duvalier. He blighted a whole generation. He suck the life out of the country. He chased out the brightest and the best. He victimized. He plundered what money was given in terms of aid, was siphoned off and pocketed. He left it bankrupt and terrorized.
Devaluation was enormously damaging for Haiti, not just for the thousands, hundreds of thousands of direct victims and indirect victims of terrorism at the time, but also in the way that it did create a mindset and ideology which is still with us today. There are still Duvalier arrests among the Duvalier sympathizers in high office. A recent president of Haiti in power from 2011 to 2016. Michel Martelly is a Duvalier is a former card-Carrying Tom-Tom that could be surrounded by former Duvalier's old timers who were there even the days of Papa Doc and those there at the time of his son as well.
There's a kind of Duvalier mentality that patients have found it very difficult to shake off. It was an enormously damaging period of patient history. Being a Duvalier is now means that probably the other part of that gang, part of that set, part of that whole corrupt kleptocracy that you believed that being government was essentially to do with lining your own pockets and to be able to continue to do that through authoritarian government and through instruments of terror. He started life as the first slave colony to win independence.
It was a beacon of progress. Now it's the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Crippled by debt and political chaos, held back by a lack of education, in no small part, this is the work of a single man. We are still living with the consequences of that and the extreme corruption that existed, the country was destroyed by some dictatorships. When they are gone, there's something left. There's a structural days, some sort of industrialization. There was nothing Haitians.
I've never had the kind of reconciliation with their past. And to some extent, it's because when Jean-Claude Duvalier died, the regime persisted in other forms. So there was never a real search for the truth.
How evil was Papa Doc?
Papa Doc was evil to the point of leaving about thirty thousand people dead during his reign. I think that's how evil he was. I think Duvalier was evil incarnate.
In the next series of real dictators. We're in Japan in the 1930s and 40s following the story of General Hideki Tojo, he is the man who led Japan through World War Two. Without him, Pearl Harbor might not have happened. The atom bombs might not have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In his pursuit of Japanese dominance in Asia and the Pacific, Tojo was utterly cold blooded. He wasn't technically a dictator, but he more than earned his place at this table.
Ruling under a compliant emperor, Tojo gathered power to himself. He was prime minister, education minister, head of the army and multiple other roles. All at the same time, he preached an absolute code of no surrender, a code which saw him fight one of the dirtiest wars ever known. He indoctrinated a people, then drove them to mass suicide when the tide of the war turned. In the pantheon of tyrants, this general turned politician is often overlooked in the next series of real dictators, it's time to correct that.
Real dictators is presented by me again. The show was created by Pascal, who's produced by Joel de Down, edited by James Tendo and Katrina Hughes. The music was composed or assembled by Oliver Baines from Flight Brigade. The strings were recorded by Darren Macaulay. The sound mixer is Tom Pink. The sound recordist is Robbie Stamm. Real Dictators is a noisy and world media writes co-production. If you haven't already, we'd love you to follow us wherever you listen to your favorite shows or check us out at Real Dictators Dotcom.